After settling in front of the fire, Sophia and Taylor asked the group of Seconders a bunch of questions.
(What follows is a transcription of the conversation)
*Jerry considers Sophia’s question, then answers:*
<Jerry: The government is very interested in what makes us special. Apart from the whole telepathy thing, which we’ll get to in a moment, have you considered what it means for people who can pass through the gates multiple times? As long as they exist on Earth, we are effectively immortal. Those in power desperately want to know how this works, and more importantly, how they can make it work for them.>
<Alfred: To answer your question, Taylor, we’re not sure. We are the only Seconders that we’ve had contact with, and the only thing in common between all of us is our telepathic and empathic powers. All of our powers seem to take the same form, although some of us have developed better control over them than others.>
<Sasha: And I suppose you consider yourself one of those? I believe I saw some blood coming out of your nose when you came back to that tree. Dei vulnera, you’d better not overdo it.>
*Sasha looks at Alfred worriedly*
<Sasha: Actually, Alfred, I’m not so sure about that. Ever since my third passage, I’ve notice that my mind is becoming a lot sharper. I was already fluent in 8 languages, but only recently have I found myself pensante en lingvoj… excuse me, “thinking in tongues”. It seems to be much easier to think in any language I know now.>
<Sophia: Do you know why you can pass through the gate more than once? If we can figure it out, if the whole world knows how the gates work, then you wont have to live in hiding anymore.>
<Tasha: Of course not. That’d be too easy, wouldn’t it?>
<Jerry: Given that we seem to be improving mentally everytime we pass through a gate, I’m sure we’ll figure it out eventually. We don’t know what the risks of passing through multiple times are, though, or really anything about how the gates work.>
<Sasha: I’m sure we can come up with some way to test any theories we may come up with.>
<Taylor: What appears to be the range of your powers?>
<Jerry: It seems to depend on the person. I can barely project my thoughts more than 20 feet, but Al over there can project and detect thoughts at well over a hundred.>
<Al: That’s actually why I was sent to deliver the message. I mean, besides the fact that y’all sound like a marchin’ band in the forest.>
<Taylor: How did the government discover you guys?>
<Tasha: Snitches. For me, at least. While they were interrogating me, I overheard one of the agents thinking that the emails they’d sent out to all government employees had pulled in a haul this time. One of my co-workers probably ratted me out.>
<Al: I got no idea how they found me out. Guess it coulda’ been cause I always went to the same gate in Enoch City, but then again, that town only had one.>
<Taylor: Are you instantly aware of another Seconder [within] your vicinity?>
<Sasha: No suele. It’s not like we’re very distinctive other than the fact that we have that “Just passed through a gate” glow to us. It is easier for us to initiate a telepathic link with others like us, but otherwise, we have no way to tell Seconders from any other person that has been through a gate at least once.>
<Taylor: Are all of you fluent in multiple languages?>
*Sasha snickers, and mutters under her breath, <Luj el ni apenaŭ povas paroli unu flue.>, and casts a sidelong glance at Alfred.*
<Jerry: Nah. Just Sasha over there, but I hear that she was a linguistic genius even before the gates.>
<GM: After a contemplative lull in the conversation, Sophia says,>
<Sophia: I wonder if there is some common factor that we can start with. Since you can all pass through more than once there is probably something that you all possess or something that you all have in common that might give us some clues.>
<Sasha: That’s a thought. Nema, hvar byrjum við? There are a lot of variables to sort through.>
<Sophia: Have you always gone through the same gates? Maybe the secret lies in certain gates. Is there anything else you can think of?>
<Al: I’ have, but I’ve o’ly been through twice. Like I said, that there gate was the o’ly one in town.
<Tasha: I’ve been through a gate in Seattle and one in Sacremento. I used to travel a lot up and down the west coast for work.>
<Sasha: I’ve used several different gates too, including the one in San Francisco, Madrid, and Bataysk. Ugh, Bataysk. I never want to visit that zarosshie zavodi derevni again. Oh, I used to do consulting work for US embassies around the world, if that helps.>
<Taylor: What are your current plans? Are you aware of any other groups who might be trying to do this kind of research outside of government control?>
<Jerry: Well, until the pogrom against the Seconders dies down, we’ll probably stay in hiding. I think there’s something to those gates, though, and the only way we’re going to learn about them is to continue going through them. Who knows, maybe they’ll eventually make us smart enough to be able to understand them one day.
<Jerry: As for other group doing research on the gates, well, what scientist these days isn’t doing research that relates to them. They’ve been a hot topic ever since they appeared last year. I think that if we link up with some scientists that are more independent-minded (and funded), we may be able to help them with their work. But there’s a lot of issues with both the gates and the people that pass through them that we can cover. We might want to focus on a specific field of research or approach to studying them, then contact scientists that may be able to help. Any ideas on that?>
At this point, the group began planning their next move. It was decided that Sophia would look up some scientists who may have some insight into the Seconders’ issues, or be willing to research it for them. She did some digging and eventually pulled up the name of Avery Sprague, a research scientist specializing in evolutionary biology and bioengineering whose work may shed some light on the Seconder’s situation. They made plans to drop in on him the next day, at his lab at the University of California San Francisco campus.
Sophia spent the rest of the day ordering supplies to disguise the rest of the group. Then, because of the ongoing manhunt for her and Taylor, she sent out Alfred to pick up the will-call items. He came back, and the next day Sophia used the items to disguise the group (applying the Aspect, We look just like college students now! to everyone but herself). They then headed to the campus.
At the campus, they located Avery’s office, but were dismayed to find out that he was out substitute teaching for a class. They then started trying to track him down…